Local track and field trio tries to prove mastery Friday

Talk of what has been accomplished will transform into discussion about what needs to be achieved for the locals who punched their ticket to the CIF Southern Section Track and Field Masters Meet at Cerritos College in Norwalk on Friday.

Seven local schools, which participated in dozens of league meets and invitationals, produced three Masters qualifiers in St. Francis High's Caleb Simmeth, Glendale's Michael Davis and Crescenta Valley's Megan Melnyk.

The goals for each may differ in importance, but include producing a new personal-best time, while earning either a top-six finish or an at-large mark to be able to move on to the following week's CIF State Meet in Clovis.

Simmeth will go first, as the senior is slated for the 110-meter hurdles at 6:47 p.m.

Simmeth somewhat surprised himself last weekend at the CIF Southern Section Division III championships at Mt. San Antonio College by qualifying in the 110 hurdles rather than the 300 hurdles.

"It's different mainly because I qualified to the Mt. SAC relays in the 300 and not the 110 and I put more focus into the 300," said Simmeth, who will miss his school's Baccalaureate Mass in favor of making his Cerritos College debut Friday evening. "The good thing is that I like the 110s; it's a much faster race."

Simmeth entered Saturday with a personal-best time of 14.73 seconds and blitzed that mark by finishing fourth in his division with a new personal-record time of 14.63, which was good for ninth overall and the event's final automatic berth.

In advancing, Simmeth is the first Golden Knight in two years to reach the Masters Meet since former teammate James Knowles, who qualified in the 300 hurdles.

"My past teammates like James and TJ Tree have been a great influence on me and I'm happy to follow in their footsteps," Simmeth said.

In case Simmeth doesn't finish with a top-six place, there's still a slim chance he can hit the state at-large mark of 14.26 and become the first St. Francis athlete to advance to state since pole vaulter Andrew Steben in 2006.

"Listen, it would be great to finish in the top six, but I'm going there looking to get a new PR," Simmeth said. "That's No. 1 on the list."

Maybe the biggest favorite to advance is Glendale senior Davis, who competes in the 200-meter dash at 8 p.m.

Davis is coming off a runner-up effort in last weekend's Division I finals in taking fourth overall with a mark of 21.39.

For Davis, success last week, and likely this week, will center around the first 20 meters.

"If I start fast, then I'll go fast. I have to get out of the blocks quick," said Davis on Saturday after failing to qualify in the 100 dash. "If I go slow, then I'm in trouble."

Last season, Davis finished third overall at the Masters Meet in a time of 21.61 in trailing well-known speedsters Khalfani Muhammad (21.10) of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Los Angeles Loyola's Morgan Simon (21.47).

The state at-large mark is 21.63.

Maybe the most intriguing of the three locals is Crescenta Valley's Melnyk, who cut more than three seconds off her seeded time of 2:16.63 in the 800-meter run in finishing fourth in Division I and fourth overall with a new personal-best mark of 2:13.34.

Melnyk will try to replicate that effort in the 800 race at 7:22 p.m.

"I'm going to go out and try to have fun and do my best," she said. "It's an honor to even get to this point and I'm going to do my best to represent myself and my school."

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